|Quick Red Beans and Rice made with The Trinity, bacon, smoked sausage and canned kidney beans - you'll never believe they're a shortcut version!|
Shortcut Red Beans and RiceRed beans and rice made from dried beans are delicious, but of course, like any dried bean, take a bit of time to stew down to delicious creaminess on the stove top, so there is a bit of a time commitment.
When I was living in New Orleans one of the gals that I met through my then boyfriend was a true born and bred New Orleans gal who had lived there all of her life. We hung out with them regularly, and one evening she and her husband invited us over to watch a movie and eat red beans and rice for dinner.
She and I were in the kitchen chatting and I noticed that she was only just then beginning to sweat down The Trinity, and I didn't notice any beans going on the stove yet either. I remember thinking, this was gonna be some late supper! Then, I saw her reach into the cabinet and much to my surprise, pull out cans of kidney beans. What??
Now ... even over here in Mississippi, I always knew red beans and rice to come from dried beans, and though the process of preparing the beans can be shortened with the quick boil method, it is still, well, a process that takes a few hours to complete. I had never seen anybody make red beans and rice from a can, never mind somebody from New Orleans!
Well, yesterday, I was in the mood for red beans and rice but when I went to the pantry, I didn't have any dried beans. Now I've been wanting to do a shortcut version of my homemade red beans, and since I do keep the pantry stocked with canned beans, this was the perfect opportunity to experiment. I grabbed some cans of kidney beans and knew with some simple conversions, I could turn those cans into a respectable red beans and rice.
The seasonings are pretty much the same as my regular homemade red beans and rice, though some of the methodology is a bit different. You can't just dump some canned kidney beans in a pot and call them red beans and rice, so you've got to build up some layers of flavor, since you're missing the nice, long stewing time. I gotta say, despite the shortcuts, these taste pretty darned close to homemade from dried beans y'all.
One thing. DO NOT add salt to these beans until the end! There is a little bit of salt coming from the meats and Cajun seasoning, but there is plenty of sodium in the canned version of beans that you likely will not need any salt at all, but definitely do not add salt before you taste them. In fact, if you're watching your sodium, be sure to drain and rinse the beans, use low sodium chicken broth, and use a bit extra as needed. Rinsing canned beans before use removes most of the sodium.
Blue Runner brand kidney beans are excellent and for this shortened version of red beans and rice make the best beans, although any brand of light or dark kidney beans, and yes, even generic, work very well.
If you can't get your hands on the Blue Runner Creole cream style kidney beans, just substitute two cans of regular beans and mash them to the consistency of canned refried beans.
I still have peppers coming in the garden so I used a couple of green chilies that I had picked the other day. I seeded and removed the ribs, and used them in place of some of the sweet bell pepper. It provided a nice gentle spicy tingle to the lips and taste buds, and did not disappoint. You may substitute jalapeno peppers to punch that up even more, or just use any color of sweet bell pepper - yellow, orange, red or green - to keep it on the mild side. I mostly use green bell pepper for my red beans, but for these photos I had a yellow that I needed to use up so that's what I used here.
Here in the Deep South, red beans and rice are often a main dish, served with a side of some kind of bread, more often than not, Pistolettes, a French bread style roll, rather than cornbread, but they are often a side dish too. They go well as a side to any kind of pork chop and you'll often find them served that way here where I live.
Recipe: Shortcut Red Beans and Rice©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 20 min | Yield: About 4 servings
- 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil (vegetable, canola, olive oil)
- 1/2 pound of andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, coarsely chopped
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1/4 cup of onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup of sweet bell pepper (yellow, orange, red or green), chopped
- 1/4 cup of celery, chopped
- 1 large toe of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon of Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 (16 ounce) cans of light or dark red kidney beans, undrained (Blue Runner recommended)
- 1 (27 ounce) can of Creole cream style red beans (Blue Runner recommended)
- 1 to 3 cups of chicken broth, as needed
Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet or pot over medium high heat, add the smoked sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add the bacon and cook until soft, but not browned. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery, cook until softened. Add the garlic, basil, Cajun seasoning, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in the beans and enough of the chicken broth to reach the consistency desired; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through, and slightly reduced and thickened. Serve as a main dish over hot, cooked rice with a mixed garden salad or green veggie, or as a side dish with meat and a veggie.
Cook's Notes: Do not add any salt until the end of cooking time and only after you have tasted it. Canned beans contain plenty of sodium, so you likely will not need any. At the end of cooking, taste and adjust. If you are watching sodium, rinse the beans well, and use lower sodium chicken broth, adding in a bit more if necessary. If Blue Runner brand cream style canned beans are not available in your area, substitute a canned regular light kidney bean, mashing two cans. May also substitute leftover ham for the sausage, or use both ham and sausage.
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